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Business and civic leaders welcome Transport Secretary and Norwegian Ambassador to Swindon

Business West and the South Swindon MP Sir Robert Buckland have welcomed the Secretary of State for Transport, Mark Harper MP, and the Norwegian Ambassador, His Excellency Wegger Strømmen to Swindon to explore investment opportunities.

During his visit, Mark Harper, who was born and raised in Wroughton, was taken on a visit of Swindon’s train station and Brunel’s Carriageworks building by a group led by Sir Robert.

The Carriageworks has been transformed into a hub for the knowledge sector industry, including creative industries, innovation and applied research and development.

Business West’s Policy Unit briefed the minister on knowledge sector investment opportunities within the centre of Swindon. A consortium of Network Rail, London & Continental Railways, Swindon Borough Council and Business West were able to help connect the prospect of green and inclusive economic growth in central Swindon with the wider opportunity created by the transport infrastructure proposed by Western Gateway’s Rail Vision for 2050.

The Norwegian Ambassador and his wife also visited Brunel’s Carriageworks building and were given a tour of University of Oxford and University of Bath’s Innovation Centre for Applied Sustainable Technologies (ICAST) by Professor Matthew Davidson, director of ICAST.

Colin Skellett, chair of Business West, and Martin Boddy, professor emeritus at the University of The West of England, helped showcase local investment opportunities and economic strengths within the borough.

The Ambassador’s Luncheon Reception, hosted by Sir Robert at Zurich UK’s headquarters provided an opportunity for leaders in Swindon and the wider region to connect with the Ambassador, including Swindon Borough Council leader Cllr Jim Robbins, London & Continental Railways, and the Science Museum Group.

The Ambassador later received a tour of Zurich’s state-of-the-art offices at Unity Place and a small private exhibition of a few key examples of Swindon’s magnificent 20th Century art collection.

Colin Skellett, chair of Business West, said: “Swindon has a rich history of innovation to drive economic growth and today is one of the UK’s most promising industrial centres for innovation, research and development.

“Our partnership between Network Rail, London & Continental Railways, Swindon Borough Council and Business West is working to accelerate these opportunities so this visit of the Norwegian Ambassador is a welcome step in laying the groundwork for potential future investment”.

The Rt Hon Robert Buckland KBE KC MP said: “I am delighted that, after meeting the Ambassador last year in my role as Secretary of State for Wales, my idea to bring him to Swindon to showcase the potential our town holds for international investors came to fruition.

“I am grateful to Business West for working with me and my office to get this organised and to make it a success, and I look forward to following up on all the important conversations we had last week to deliver for Swindon”.

Cllr Jim Robbins said: “It’s great to be able to discuss Swindon and our exciting plans for its future with the Norwegian Ambassador.”

Pictured: Mark Harper (left) with Sir Robert Buckland at Swindon’s Fleming Way improvement scheme

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